FRISCO, Texas — For only the fourth time in program history, Ohio has won a bowl game.
Behind 164 rushing yards from A.J. Ouellette and an impressive defensive performance Wednesday, the Bobcats defeated San Diego State 27-0 in the DXL Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium.
Frank Solich has been the head coach for all four of Ohio’s bowl wins, including Wednesday’s win, and the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the 2012 Independence Bowl and the 2017 Bahamas Bowl. The win is also Ohio’s first over a Mountain West opponent since that 2011 bowl game.
Ouellette finished his career at Ohio as the program’s third all-time rusher, and San Diego State’s top-25 national defense couldn’t stop him. The redshirt senior had 97 rushing yards in the first half alone.
Nathan Rourke helped Ouellette’s cause, taking pressure off Ouellette with deep shots down the sideline and scrambles of his own. Rourke finished with 206 yards passing and 44 yards on the ground, scoring three total touchdowns.
The Aztecs became one of the most dominant rushing teams in the Mountain West throughout the regular season on their way to a 6-1 start. But they went 1-4 in their last five games before the bowl game, and they couldn’t run on Ohio’s defense for much of the night.
Running back Juwan Washington had only 129 rushing yards on 19 attempts, but 44 of those came on one carry. The Aztecs struggled to find any offensive rhythm, and the Bobcats defense stuffed a majority of the run attempts. SDSU finished with only 287 total yards.
Ohio scored on four of its first five possessions to take command of the game. Although they only had four first half drives, the Bobcats ran for 133 yards as a team in the first two quarters. Louie Zervos hit a 30-yard field goal on the opening drive, and Rourke had two rushing touchdowns after. But those came on the back of Ouellette’s work to take Ohio down the field.
Rourke’s first touchdown came on a read option keep after Ouellette had been fed the ball down the field. Rourke kept it around the left side and walked in untouched for the score. The next score came on a quick drive at the end of the first half.
Rourke found a wide open Andrew Meyer on a flea-flicker touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 27-0 after Zervos knocked in another field goal earlier in the second half.
Entering the game, Solich and SDSU coach Rocky Long combined for 299 career wins. Solich’s win, which was his 164th as a coach, made it 300 total.
The Bobcats became the first Mid-American Conference team to win a bowl game this season. Northern Illinois was defeated by UAB, and Eastern Michigan fell to Georgia Southern earlier in the bowl season.